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eSIM likely to find its way into smartphones by 2018, IHS believes

The GSM Association has been working for quite a while on a so called embedded SIM (eSIM), but the standard has not been used in smartphones yet. So far, only wearables, Internet-of-Things (IоT) devices, consumer electronics gadgets and some variants of Apple’s iPad Pro have been equipped with such cards. However, the situation is expected to change, as the eSIMs are about to make their way into smartphones next year, or by 2019, according to industry observers.

eSIM likely to find its way into smartphones by 2018, IHS believes

Analysts from IHS Markit believe that incorporating eSIM into cellular handsets may start in 2018 as part of small testing introductions, while large-scale smartphone deployments by “tier-one suppliers such as Samsung, Apple and Huawei” are more probable to happen in 2019. And when tier-one suppliers begin to offer mobile devices with embedded SIMs, the eSIM market volume is expected to jump sharply.

According to IHS Markit’s predictions, the segment will increase nearly nine-fold over the next five years, from a relatively small base of 108.9 million shipments in 2016 to 986 million shipments in 2021. Of course, the removable SIM cards are not going to be replaced overnight, but their shipments and proportional market shares are supposed to gradually decline over time — from 5.4 billion shipments (98.0% of the total) in 2016 to 5.1 billion (83.9% of the total) in 2021.


eSIM likely to find its way into smartphones by 2018, IHS believes
So far, eSIM market has been driven by areas such as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and tablets, but volume growth is expected to jump when eSIM is introduced into the smartphones and other consumer devices, IHS says.

The IHS observers are convinced that the embedded Subscriber Identity Modules have potential benefits for everyone in the ecosystem, including smartphone users, carriers, and SIM hardware suppliers. But no comments on the IHS Markit’s report have been made so far by the companies mentioned above, so their plans about moving towards eSIM are not clear yet.

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